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劉廼強 | 9th Feb 2010 | China Daily (Hong Kong Edition) | (32 Reads)

When I first saw the collapsed building on TV, I thought it happened on the mainland, as did many viewers. It is very hard to believe that an old building can be allowed to collapse in Hong Kong, but it did happen. Later it was reported that the reason for the collapse was improper renovation by an authorized contractor, but this cannot make the whole thing any more acceptable.

People died in the accident because they were poor, because the flat owner was miserly, and because the contractor was greedy and sloppy. Ultimately it was also because the government never made up its mind to do an overdue, thorough inspection of old buildings throughout Hong Kong.

If we probe deeper, there are myriad problems at different levels intertwined together crying to be tackled. The crux of the matter is: Are we aware of such problems? If the answer is no, why are we unaware of them? If the answer is yes, again why is nobody doing anything about them?

There are lawmakers who are supposed to dig up problems and urge officials to clear them up. It is apparent that either they are not doing their jobs, or their voices are being ignored. Again why? Are they not pushing hard enough, or are they expending their efforts elsewhere, like bickering among themselves and blocking each and every move of the government?

Even if our politicians in the Legislative Council are inept, it is up to the government to take initiatives and push policies through the legislature. Obviously it is either not pushing, or not pushing hard enough, or not effective in its pushing. In most cases, our government seems to give up making initiatives after repeatedly being blocked by the Legislative Council.

When the situation is totally rotten, as it is now, there is a consensus that the government must do something about it. The government ought to jump into action and save the day. Instead of doing some patch-up job, it must dig into the roots of the problems even if it might hurt some interest groups and arouse criticism.

Otherwise the situation would fall into a vicious circle that our whole society still does not know how to escape. We must not let another disaster happen.